Travel Medicine (cont.)
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Why should travelers see a physician before they leave on a trip?
- What diseases occur in travelers, and how can disease be prevented?
- Traveler's diarrhea
- Meningococcal meningitis
- Yellow fever
- Hepatitis A
- Typhoid fever
- What about diseases for which there is no vaccine or preventive medication?
- What is safe to eat and drink while traveling?
- What can I do to avoid insect bites?
- What should be in my travel first aid kit?
- What are the medical concerns with jet lag?
- What if I have a medical condition or a chronic disease?
- What if I'm pregnant?
- What about traveling with children?
- Where can I find additional information?
- Find a local Family Physician in your town
What if I'm pregnant?
Pregnant women should consult with their obstetrician before travel. If available, a consultation with a travel-medicine specialist is also recommended. Live vaccines are usually avoided in pregnancy. Some medications must also be avoided. This may put pregnant women at higher risk for getting sick in a foreign country.
Pregnant women should also be aware that the quality of obstetrical care in foreign countries varies considerably. It is best to have the name of a reputable clinic or hospital on hand. Women in the third trimester should consider delaying travel until after delivery. Check with your health-insurance provider in advance to determine what is covered in the destination country.
Diarrhea, some types of hepatitis, and malaria can be especially severe in pregnant women. Follow food, water, and insect precautions. Avoid areas with malaria if at all possible, and take medications as directed.
What about traveling with children?
Children should be up to date on routine vaccinations including those for mumps, measles, rubella, polio, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria, and varicella (chickenpox/shingles). Some vaccinations and medications are not recommended for children. This means that the risk or severity of certain diseases is increased in children.
Diarrhea is more common in children because so much ends up in their mouths. Children can quickly become dehydrated. Make sure that your child drinks plenty of fluids. Consider adding an oral rehydration solution to your medical kit.
Children are attracted to animals and are more likely to get bitten. Bite wounds may become infected or transmit rabies. Keep children away from animals.
Newborns and infants are at special risk because they are easily dehydrated and many vaccines and medications are contraindicated in this age group. Breastfeeding will help reduce the risk of diarrhea. There are limited options for malaria prevention in infants. Around the world, malaria remains one of the major causes of death in children.
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